The title says it all: Director of Coaching Education, Player and Club Development. This is the official title that South Carolina Youth Soccer has bestowed upon the full time position that I currently occupy. There are 54 other professionals that hold the same position across the United States. Each Director has a unique set of geographical, socio-economic and cultural circumstances to master. Although the states and soccer associations are different, we all share a common goal. That goal is to develop and educate young, old, new and experienced coaches, players, families and clubs on how to establish a solid foundation in the fundamental elements of our great game of soccer. This solid foundation will allow for the future success and the continued growth of soccer from the local, to the national and possible global level.
The 55 state soccer associations take our lead in coaching education from the United States Soccer Federation Coaching Education Department. US Soccer has implemented many new changes in the structure, content and delivery of the coaching courses that it offers. Each state association is responsible for delivering US Soccer’s E and D Coaching Licenses as well US Youth Soccer’s Youth Module. South Carolina Youth Soccer held 4 E courses and 3 D courses in January and February of 2013. We held 6 Youth Modules across the state during the same time. When it’s all said and done a total of 236 youth soccer coaches attended a coaching course in 6 weeks in our small state. That’s a phenomenal number. A number we hope continues to grow. As the number of educated coaches in our state grows so too does the possibility of our state developing quality players for the youth national teams and possibly the senior national teams.
Sticking with the Coaching Education theme a bit longer, US Soccer is in the midst of overhauling, upgrading and establishing new standards in their coaching licenses and coaching education department. From the bottom of the coaching education pyramid all the way to the tip US Soccer will be on par with the highest standards and qualities of the top countries in UEFA and in FIFA. Starting in the 2012 US Soccer introduced a new E license curriculum that we have been teaching and have had nothing but positive feedback from the candidates that come through and complete the course. The next course to get an overhaul is the D course. The new D course, which will be introduced in our summer course schedule promises to offer an opportunity for a longer learning period and more interaction with instructors over the length of the course. The length of the course stays the same, 36 hours of overall instruction. The new format will call for an added 8-12 hours of pre-course and during course work assignments. The course will take place over 2 weekends but instead of the weekends being back to back weekends now coaches will be required to wait a minimum of one season before taking the 2nd weekend of the course. During the time period between course weekends coaches will have assignments to complete and will have access to one of the SCYS Coaching Education staff coaches. Instead of the learning taking place over two weekends coaches now have an opportunity to extend that learning possibly over 3-4 months. We are very excited about the possibilities that this will provide the SCYS Coaching Education staff to interact with coaches across the state during an actual soccer season.
Coaching education is only a part of the job. Player development and club development are also a part of the job that I embrace and enjoy. I have learned that more often than not player and club development are often a bi-product of the coaching education courses that we offer throughout the year. We are working hard to make player and club development a priority across the state and offer these topics as standalone clinics or seminars for any club that is interested in either. We recently offered a free goalkeeper clinic which was hosted by Walterboro Soccer Club. The clinic was offered on a Thursday night this past month. I honestly wasn’t expecting much, I mean Walterboro isn’t exactly in the middle of the state. Much to my shock and astonishment 56 soccer players of all ages and abilities attended that free goalkeeper clinic. 56 players! On a Thursday night! We had players ranging from 6 – 16! Recreational players, club players, high school players and even some of our Olympic Development Program players attended the clinic. Players came from Charleston, Summerville, Lexington, Columbia, and even as far away as Sumter and Camden! What a turn out. Players left happy and left having learned something about a position many coaches know very little about. What does this mean for soccer in our state? On the grand scheme of things it means little. But as we all know these little things add up to big things. This shows us what our members want, need and enjoy. This gives us hope that through our efforts we can and will continue to grow the game of soccer at the grassroots level.
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